iPad Air vs iPad Pro Buyer’s Guide: 30+ Differences Compared

iPad Air is now available in two size options, just like the iPad Pro. But after a significant update to the iPad Pro‌ that brings a thinner design and OLED displays, how different are the two product lines and which one should you buy?

The introduction of the fourth generation iPad Air in September 2020 brought the device much closer to the iPad Pro in terms of design, and with the latest model, the iPad Air gets the same M2 chip and Apple Pencil support as the previous iPad Pro, bringing them closer together. The latest ‌iPad Pro‌ models introduced a slew of significant new changes, such as the M4 chip, OLED displays, and a higher price point, meaning that the higher-end iPad models are now even more distinct from the ‌iPad Air‌ than before.

Should you consider buying an ‌iPad Air‌ to save money, or do you need the advanced features of the ‌iPad Pro‌? Our guide answers the question of how to decide which of the two iPads is best for you.

iPad Air (M2, 2024) iPad Pro (M4, 2024)
Liquid retina display
LED backlit multi-touch screen with IPS technology
Ultra Retina XDR display
Side by side OLED
ProMotion technology with refresh rates up to 120 Hz
SDR brightness: 600 nits max SDR brightnessImage: 1000 nits max
XDR brightness: 1,000 nits maximum full screen, 1,600 nits (HDR content only)
Nano-texture display glass option on 1TB and 2TB models
‌‌M2‌‌ chip (5 nm, N5P) M4 chip (3nm enhanced, N3E)
8 core CPU Up to 10 core CPU
Hardware-accelerated ray tracing
H.264 and HEVC hardware acceleration Hardware acceleration in 8K H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW
ProRes encoding and decoding engine
AV1 decoding
Memory bandwidth 100 GB/s Memory bandwidth 120 GB/s
8 GB of memory Random memory: 8 GB or 16 GB
Improved thermal design using graphite and copper sheets
Touch ID in the top button TrueDepth camera system for Face ID
Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and depth control
Portrait lighting with six effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High Level Mono)
Animoji and Memoji
LiDAR scanner
Adaptive true tone flash
Rear ambient light sensor
Up to 4K@30fps ProRes video recording (1080p@30fps for 256GB)
Up to 4K ProRes video recording at 60 fps with external recording
Two microphones Four studio-quality microphones
Audio amplification
Stereo recording
Landscape stereo speakers Four speakers
Weight: 462 grams or 617 grams Weight 444 grams or 579 grams
Depth: 6.1 mm Depth: 5.3 mm or 5.1 mm
USB-C connector USB-C connector with Thunderbolt/USB 4 support
Supports Magic Keyboard Supports Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro‌ (M4)
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB storage space 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB storage space
Available in Space Grey, Starlight, Purple, and Blue Available in black and silver
Price starts at $599 Price starts at $999
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Overall, the ‌iPad Air‌ is the better choice for the majority of users, simply on the basis of value for money. For most people, the extra $400+ needed to buy an ‌iPad Pro‌ isn’t justifiable to get the likes of ‌Face ID‌, quad-speaker sound, and a ProMotion OLED display with refresh rates up to 120Hz.

Some ‌iPad Pro‌ features, like LiDAR, up to 16GB of memory, and Thunderbolt connectivity are only practically useful to a small segment of users and most of them will never use some of these advanced capabilities. Many features such as audio zoom and stereo sound recording may not be usefully used by many users.

Pros who have a clear use case for needing larger amounts of RAM and storage, a matte display, Thunderbolt connectivity, and OLED for HDR content will clearly benefit from purchasing the ‌iPad Pro‌. However, “prosumer” customers who simply want the best ‌iPad‌ will enjoy features like 120Hz ProMotion for smoother scrolling and gaming, deeper blacks and more vibrant colors with the OLED display, and Adaptive True Tone flash for document scanning, even if they’re not necessary .

Beyond these individual circumstances, the ‌iPad Air‌ is the best value for money and will be more than enough to meet the needs of most users. With the ‌iPad Air‌, users can get a modern all-screen design, an ‌M2‌ chip, practical features like USB-C and 5G connectivity, and compatibility with essential Apple accessories at a much lower price than the ‌iPad Pro‌.

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